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Offbeat News

Could Mexico cactus solve world's plastics problem?

Guadalajara - Mexico's prickly pear cactus, which is emblazoned on the country's flag, could soon play a new and innovative role in the production of biodegradable plastics.

Turkmen leader quells death rumours with return to TV screens

Ashgabat - Turkmenistan's all-powerful leader returned to state television on Wednesday, dispelling an online rumour that he had died.

Prized Thai buffaloes show off speed in muddy race

Chon Buri - Sloshing across a muddy field with men sprinting behind them, prized water buffaloes blow past cheering spectators in eastern Thailand on Sunday in a rare display of bovine speed.

Scotland Yard Twitter and emails hacked

London - London's Metropolitan Police apologised Saturday after its Twitter, emails and news pages were targeted by hackers and began pumping out a series of bizarre messages.

Salvini and Berlusconi bet on pets as Italy coalition wobbles

Rome - Italy's strongman deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini appears to be taking a leaf out of former leader Silvio Berlusconi's book by wooing voters with pet-friendly initiatives to shore up support ahead of possible elections.

Tiger, rhinos flee to higher ground in India's flood-hit Assam

Guwahati - A tiger escaped from a wildlife park in India's flood-ravaged Assam and stretched out on a shophouse bed Thursday, startling residents and shining a spotlight on the plight of animals caught up in the deluge.

Russian comedy duo pranks North Macedonia PM

Skopje - Two Russian pranksters famous for hoax phone calls have tricked North Macedonia's prime minister into seemingly agreeing to pay a bribe and accusing Russia of having "many spies" in the Balkans.

Not kosher: Israel embassy in Brazil mocked over lunch photo

Bras - A bungled attempt to alter a photo of Israel's ambassador to Brazil apparently enjoying a lobster lunch with President Jair Bolsonaro has been ridiculed on social media, where users accused the embassy of censoring the non-kosher shellfish.

Thailand's orphaned baby dugong becomes conservation star

Trang - Cuddles at feeding time are one of many techniques vets in Thailand are using to raise an orphaned baby dugong named Mariam, and which have helped spread interest in ocean conservation in the process.

Osaka rolls out red carpet, not red-light district for G20

Osaka - Special quick-flushing toilets, granny rap and a self-imposed brothel ban: Japan's Osaka is determined to paint itself in the best possible light for the G20 leaders summit starting on Friday.

Fake Twitter account for new UN food agency chief shut down

Rome - A fake Twitter account opened immediately after the weekend election of China's Qu Dongyu to head the Food and Agriculture Organization has been shut down, the UN food agency said Monday.

'Good gifts': Putin presents Xi with birthday ice cream

Dushanbe - Russian President Vladimir Putin presented his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping with a giant box of ice cream for his 66th birthday before a summit in Tajikistan on Saturday, the Kremlin said, in a sign of the pair's warm ties.

Hong Kongers alarmed by Google translation gaffe

Fpo - Hong Kong social media lit up on Friday when protesters noticed Google's translation software was briefly churning out a rather odd suggestion during a week that has seen the worst political violence to hit the city in decades.

89/64: China stocks reference Tiananmen anniversary... again

Fpo - As the world marked the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown on Tuesday Chinese stocks once again referenced the event, with two Hong Kong indexes closing at lunch with figures that might prove a little awkward.

Australian teen who egged senator donates to Christchurch victims

Sydney - An Australian teen who egged a far-right senator over his offensive comments about the Christchurch mosque attacks says he has donated almost Aus$100,000 (US$69,000) raised for his legal defence to the victims of the shootings.

Anchorwomen: Chinese, US TV hosts primed for showdown

Bejing - The US-China trade talks may be on hold but their war on words is heating up, with Chinese and US TV anchors primed for a rare television debate that Beijing hopes will prove a popular draw.

Japanese sumo vs Trump's WWE: big differences in clash of big men

Apo - President Donald Trump will be ringside Sunday for Tokyo's big sumo tournament, but if he hopes his longtime love of US-style professional wrestling will give him special insight into the action, he better think again.

Japan FM puzzles followers with 'enciphered bacon' tweet

Apo - Bemused followers of Japan's foreign minister were left scratching their heads on Tuesday after a bizarre tweet about bacon, sparking tongue-in-cheek speculation he could be tweeting classified information in code."Ah, bacon is in fact ^%£$+*•!%.......

Milkshakes become weapon of choice in UK European campaign

London - The lowly milkshake has turned into an unlikely weapon of choice for Britons determine to make a splashy statement against the rise of the Brexit-backing populist right.

Want Alpine thrills? Try competitive paper plane flying

Salzburg - If you've ever wanted to earn your wings ecologically, economically and quietly while breathing healthy Alpine air, read on, because you can.

Pakistan turns to science, infuriating moonsighting mullahs

Islamabad - Imran Khan's government has drawn the ire of conservative mullahs with calls for a science-based lunar calendar to calculate the start of the holy fasting month of Ramadan in Pakistan, which faces an annual controversy over the date.

Dramatic tow-truck arrest of Guaido's right-hand man

Caracas - Sirens in the night, armed and balaclava-clad policemen surrounding an imposing four-wheel drive vehicle as its occupier refused to get out.

Nepal refutes Indian Army's abominable yeti claim

Kathmandu - Nepal's army Friday refuted the Indian military's hairy claim that its soldiers had discovered yeti footprints in the Himalayas, saying they were more likely just a bear.

Indian Army mocked for Yeti 'footprint' photos

New Delhi - Photos of "Yeti footprints" posted online by the Indian army triggered a social media storm on Tuesday, with users ridiculing the military for propagating theories debunked by science.

Palestinian ministers sworn in again after oath foul-up

Ramallah - Palestinian government ministers were sworn in for a second time on Sunday after a lawyer noticed that the oath they took the day before had been missing a phrase.

Brazil flooding unleashes caimans in Rio neighborhood

Rio De Janeiro - Residents of a hillside Rio de Janeiro favela risk finding hungry caimans at their front door after the city was hit hard by heavy flooding caused by torrential rain.

Hong Kong admits world's largest air purifier choked on debut

Fpo - Red-faced Hong Kong officials admitted on Tuesday that a record-breaking air filter for a new bypass under the city broke down shortly after it began operating.Hong Kong opened a long-awaited $4.6 billion tunnel under a 3.7 kilometre (2.

Thai pro-marijuana party in high demand after disputed vote

Bangkok - A super-wealthy construction scion who ran a pro-marijuana platform ahead of Thailand’s election has emerged as a highly courted candidate as two main parties need his allegiance -- and party seats -- after the disputed vote.

Pope resisted ring-kissing for fear of germs

Vatican City - Pope Francis tries to stop people kissing his ring because he fears it could spread germs, the Vatican said Thursday in response to a viral video showing the Argentinian repeatedly withdrawing his hand from worshippers.

Eternal shell: Sacred turtle embalmed in Hanoi

Hanoi - A sacred giant turtle that died in Hanoi's storied Hoan Kiem lake has been given a new lease on life by city authorities who have embalmed the beloved creature for posterity -- and tourist visits.
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